Our kids had endless fun this summer hurtling off cliffs into clear northern lakes, from rocks jutting out 10, 25, even 30 feet above the water. It’s a popular pastime at many provincial and national parks, which must be why Canada’s Wonderland has decided to commercialize it with a “multi-level cliff jumping attraction” in 2020. By next summer, visitors will be able to climb ersatz cliffs to the tallest platform, 25 feet up, and then jump down into a pool below in the Splash Works section of this Toronto-area amusement park.
Mosquitoes not included.
Canada’s Wonderland knows that customers want to be scared – not stung or injured – and only within certain parameters. Safe parameters. This attraction, like every roller coaster, will be carefully constructed to create fear while removing all actual danger. We like a safe bet. Watching Jeopardy rather than being in it. Eventually, that kind of caution becomes a habit. Becomes the norm. Until . . . we forget that anything like real cliffs and crags exist.
If the only place you take the plunge is in Canada’s Wonderland instead of standing on the Canadian Shield, you might think the sanitized version is normal. And get kind of comfortable there. But some real-world risks, as Meghan writes on the previous page, are worth taking! I’m sure you can think of examples from your life when you’re glad you said “yes,” even though the outcome was far from certain. Getting married is risky. Loving anyone is risky. So is moving to a new city, starting a new job, having a baby, adopting a baby, joining a church, sending your kids to college or walking across the fellowship hall to say hi to someone new. These “perils of love,” as pastor John Piper calls them, are “the only risks permitted by Christ” (desiringGod.org). Because the outcome is far from certain, love in real life – compared to, say, those same relationships in the movies – is so much harder, and so much more beautiful.
TRUST IN THINGS UNSEEN
People describe faith as something akin to leaping – at least, the phrase “leap of faith” seems to imply there are no guarantees. Does it also imply the same amount of nerve required, and delight received, as dropping off a cliff into the water? Faith requires “the conviction of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1), which sounds like the very definition of risk.
Unless . . . we strip out all the actual danger. Unless we stay too long inside our churches discussing the best programs and outreach ministry options, and postpone actual interaction with real people. Many of whom might not have the luxury of this particular choice, because their daily living conditions are perilous.
Jesus not only risked but lost his life for us. We can’t follow his example if all we know are carefully constructed, attraction-driven, risk-free churches. We need the real world. The world needs us. Those leaps of faith, the times we have loved each other well – those are moments that bring hope to a hurting world and a reminder that, because of the cross, restoration is possible.
Life is risky.
God gives us so many second chances.
We can jump on them, at any time.